City of Tukwila, school district work together to benefit children | Commentary

Behind the scenes, the city and district are continuing to plan and collaborate together. We hold regular City Council/School Board meetings, executive-cabinet meetings, service-provider meetings, and safety/emergency-preparedness meetings. We discover many intersecting interests, opportunities, efficiencies, and resources when we are in the room together.

  • Thursday, March 17, 2016 7:00pm
  • Opinion

We are one Tukwila!

It’s a good time to send out this annual update about all the ways the City of Tukwila and Tukwila School District are partnering because there are some exciting opportunities ahead. We are more committed than ever to working together, with the philosophy that we are just two sides of the same coin in service to families and residents. Open communication, shared resources, collaboration, joint events —united we strengthen each other and the entire community.

In January, we held our first Leaders at the Links event. This is a forum for anyone in the community to come talk to us as the leaders of the city and school district, while sharing breakfast at Billy Baroo’s at Foster Links on a Saturday morning. For the first go-round, we had many valuable conversations, especially with a courageous youth leader who came to talk about her concerns around health and safety. We have been following up, and we were even able to take her to Olympia the next week to advocate with legislators. This type of empowerment is the best possible outcome —we want you to feel like your voice is both heard and acted upon. Please join us at the next Leaders at the Links event, 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, April 16.

Coming up, the school district is hosting a spring film series made possible by a grant from the city’s Equity and Diversity Commission. We are proud to be able to bring our community together around several of the most important issues in Tukwila schools and neighborhoods: Discipline of traumatized youth, homelessness, and refugees’ experiences. This is an attempt by both the district and city to take a deeper dive into the social, economic, and human crises that impact us all, with the goal of understanding and moving forward toward solutions — all with a culturally inclusive perspective.

When it comes to safety, we are partnering to keep children the top priority. The Police Department’s new School Resource Officer, Adam Balcom, has already proven to be a tremendous asset as he works in schools daily to keep campuses safe and form positive relationships with students. This is the type of community policing that is going to change culture and save lives in the future as officers and the next generation of Tukwila citizens learn to understand, respect, and trust each other. We also can’t overstate the importance of the seizure and recent demolition of motels on International Boulevard that were known hotspots for crime, drugs, and prostitution. Mere blocks from our schools, students no longer have to pass these dangerous places going to and from class, and it sends a strong message about what the Tukwila community stands for: Security, well-being, family.

We are proud to say that the city has also been taking an educational role in schools. The Parks and Recreation Department runs part of the REACH after-school program at our three elementary schools. With a wealth of industry expertise, the city is going to play an important part in Foster High’s upcoming Career Day, and we are actively looking to expand hands – on internship opportunities in the city. We are also looking at the possibility of connecting elementary students with long-term mentors from the city. On a regular basis, many City Council members are in schools volunteering, including council member De’Sean Quinn’s inspirational speech to the entire Foster High student body at the last academic assembly.

Behind the scenes, the city and district are continuing to plan and collaborate together. We hold regular City Council/School Board meetings, executive-cabinet meetings, service-provider meetings, and safety/emergency-preparedness meetings. We discover many intersecting interests, opportunities, efficiencies, and resources when we are in the room together.

It’s an honor to be a leader in this community. Our pledge is to stand united in service to you, and we hope to show you the many ways that we are fulfilling that promise. If you ever have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to call.

Allan Ekberg is mayor of the City of Tukwila; he can be reached at 206-433-1850. Nancy Coogan is superintendent of the Tukwila School District; she can be reached at 206-901-8006.

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